Lee Kaplan: Using the IRS to shut down political opponents

You have to give self-styled investigative journalist Lee Kaplan an A for tenacity. There seems to be no line he will not cross in order to “protectwhat he sees as Israel’s interests. He fabricates stories, boasts about giving names of solidarity activists to the Israeli border police and infiltrating conferences, and makes a career out of demonizing and hounding groups that question Israel’s policies or in any way support Palestinians.

In fact, there’s so much to say about Lee Kaplan that he actually has his own website, Lee Kaplan Watch, run by two UC Berkeley students. Here’s just a tiny example of Kaplan-style revenge directed towards one of the students, Israeli Ehud Appel.

One of Kaplan’s favorite tactics is trying to get the IRS to investigate groups that he doesn’t like. Articles can be found all over the web, but particularly in the hawkish pro-Israel answer to the National Enquirer, Frontpage Magazine, calling for IRS investigations of myriad groups. He usually posts tax forms filed by the groups to make his case.

Recently, Jewish Voice for Peace was hit with an audit by the IRS. It seemed suspicious for several reasons: it was an audit that focused largely on our political activities, we weren’t the only ones who were audited at the time, and finally, a loose-lipped IRS agent mentioned something about claims made by “the other side.” (We passed the audit with flying colors.)

Of course, we have no direct evidence to link the audit to Lee Kaplan and his compatriot, Bill Levinson, who has threatened JVP in part because of this blog. Nonetheless, we, like many others, had long been a target of Kaplan’s and Levinson’s campaign to get the IRS to shut us (and many others) down.

Now Rebuilding Alliance, a group that helps to rebuild homes in the occupied territories, is Kaplan’s latest target. Under the category of Things you can’t make up, Kaplan’s zeal to stop them led him to impersonate a Congressional staffer on a conference call arranged by Rebuilding Alliance. They wrote:

A couple of weeks ago, we began our third teleconference with a senior staffer for Congresswoman Anna Eschoo. However, as participants convened, “Mr. Lee Mulberry” claimed that he was a member of Congresswoman Eschoo’s staff, said that the teleconference was illegal, and made derogatory remarks about our guest speaker from Gaza (”he’s a terrorist”) before we were able to restore order by muting his call. Because of this disruption by the rogue caller, the teleconference was re-scheduled.

Somehow, Rebuilding Alliance was able to determine that Lee Mulberry was Lee Kaplan, and now he is being investigated for impersonating a Congressional staffer. But that hasn’t stopped him from issuing this broadside against them in Rebuilding Terror Tax Free:

Like other ISM-linked nonprofits, the RBA has been lying to the IRS on its tax returns to mask its violations of tax codes that prohibit lobbying for specific legislation or candidates and engaging in propaganda. By exploiting its tax-free status, the RBA raises money for the Palestinian “revolution” under the guise of charity, since houses allegedly destroyed by the IDF are usually domiciles used by terrorist cells as bomb factories or are structures built on land owned by Israelis as a form of squatting.

Rebuilding Alliance issued this statement to clarify tax law:

The Rebuilding Alliance is a wholly transparent organization that is fully compliant with U.S. tax laws and with its tax filings. As a 501(c)(3) organization, it has a board of directors whose sole purpose is to serve the public interest. As such, The Rebuilding Alliance has registered and operates in accordance with 501(h) election to Make Expenditures to Influence Legislation. Given this, we have full legal right to lobby and to hold teleconference calls with elected representatives within the boundaries established by those rules.

If IRS agents show up at the front door of Rebuilding Alliance any time soon, it’s a pretty good bet we’ll all know who to thank. Forget investigations for impersonating Congressional staffers, maybe it’s time for a Congressional investigation into using the IRS for political purposes.

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